Ask the same person about a particular element of the game outside his definition ' wild dress, certain equipment, Mulligans, you name it ' and youll likely get a much more impassioned response, sometimes followed by a request to vacate the premises.
I think we can all agree that certain things ' say, foot wedges ' have no place in a fairly played game. But constantly running around pointing to little inconsistencies and crying, Thats not golf! seems to me the same as storming out of a Mexican restaurant because theres no French food on the menu.
Lighten up. Nobodys making you concede 2-footers. If putting out is your game, putt out. Leave others to their whims.
These thoughts came to the surface after a conversation with an old friend about U.S. Open courses, and how they play differently than those typically found on the PGA TOUR.
Lately they yield different winners too; solid players who arent necessarily household names. More bounce, less sticky greens, more wiry rough, nervier landing areas ' you get the idea. The seeming randomness of some of the bounces reminds people of the undulating courses of the British Isles, some of whose fairways look like ocean swells stopped in time.
Do you think, I asked my friend, that the annual U.S. Open setup is the U.S. Golf Associations statement that their brand of golf is the real deal, the pinnacle of what the game should be?
We didnt settle that one before the conversation had to end. But since then, I have concluded that it doesnt matter. Its all golf.
To say that the fly-it-in, spin-it-to-a-stop kind of golf that excites so many PGA TOUR fans is somehow better than the skip-it, bounce-it, roll-it-in variety found on firmer courses (or vice versa) is to cheat oneself of a lot of good golf.
Better to embrace both. I mean, why not?
You can enjoy the Phoenix or Pebble Beach tournaments, with their different challenges, as much as the Open Championship on dry, tough and toasty Royal Liverpool, where a shot on the flag will end up way off the back of the green. Its all about menu choices. One night chicken, another fish. Get the right chef(s), and its all good.
My son and I are planning to attend a NASCAR race. Its a sport I know only a little about, so I checked out the NASCAR website.
Turns out there are four kinds of tracks: short tracks (Bristol and Dover are examples) are a mile or less. Intermediates (Charlotte, Darlington, Homestead and the like) range between a mile and two. Super speedways are greater than two miles long (Daytona, Talladega) and a road course is more complex than an oval ' it has right turns as well as left (such as Sonoma and Watkins Glen). Each track style is represented on the schedule.
How can this not add variety and spice?
Its the same theory that has all our major tours on the road every week. Former LPGA commissioner Charlie Mechem, the nicest guy in the world, still loved to get the needle into his tennis buddies.
The courts are the same everywhere, he said. Why travel?
This always got a chuckle, and nobody knew better than Charlie that you have to take the sport to the people. But as a one-up for golf over tennis, the message was clear. Were more interesting because we play on varied fields, each with its own challenges and charms.
The only way to improve an already solid rota is this: use what we know to adjust course choices and conditions, and bring in golfs engaging variety. Instead of weeks-straight of aerial golf, work in a few more bump-and-run opportunities.
Theres no need to undo the schedule; it may be as simple in some locations as not watering as much. Of course, weather can interfere ' extreme heat may require more water to keep turf playable ' thats something we all have to live with. But any effort to call for a variety of shots, perhaps something different than the last week, can only help.
To be fair, we see some subtle changes already.
Starting in Memphis, the PGA TOUR had three straight weeks of par-70 courses (including Oakmont, the U.S. Open venue). Strategy changes arising from fewer par-5s made those tournaments more interesting. And overall, no one could accuse the courses on the PGA TOUR schedule of being homogenous.
But when we start hearing people say, in anticipation of an event, Oh, this is that tournament where they have to run it onto the green, and its not just the Open Championship ' well, well be dealing with a good product made even better.
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